The Irish PEN/Freedom to Write Committee

(June 2020)  Freedom to Write group have agreed to act as a steering committee while guiding the transition to a completely new Irish PEN. The new Irish PEN will be launched in November. An AGM will follow in the New Year when a new committee will be formed, as elected by Irish PEN members.In the meantime, the Freedom to Write Campaign will continue its support of the PEN charter through various actions, carried out in the name of Irish PEN/The Freedom to Write Campaign.

The Freedom to Write Committee is:

June Considine has written novels for children and young adults. Her short stories for teenage readers have been published in anthologies and broadcast on RTE. She writes psychological thrillers under the pen name, Laura Elliot She has collaborated on a number of high profile, non-fiction books. She is a founder member of Word, a professional body of writers affiliated to the Irish Writers Centre, and is also a founder member of Freedom to Write.




Catherine Dunne (Photo: Noel Hillis)

Catherine Dunne is the author of ten published novels. Her one work of non-fiction, An Unconsidered People, is a social history that explores the lives of Irish immigrants in London in the 1950s. Among her novels are: The Things We Know Now, which won the Giovanni Boccaccio International Prize for Fiction in 2013 and was shortlisted for Novel of the Year at the Irish Book Awards. The Years That Followed was published in 2016 and was longlisted for the International Dublin Literary Award. In 2019, she was the recipient of the Irish PEN Award for Outstanding Contribution to Irish Literature.



Kate Ennals has published poems and short stories in a range of literary and on-line journals. Her first collection of poetry At The Edge was published in 2015. Her second collection, Threads, was published in April 2018. Kate also runs At The Edge, Cavan, a literary reading evening, Her blog can be found at


Photo by Bobbie Hanvey Photographic Archives Boston College

Sophia Hillan, author and sometime academic, Associate Director of QUB’s Institute of Irish Studies 1993-2003, is editor of In Quiet Places: Uncollected Stories, Letters and Critical Prose of Michael McLaverty and author of The Silken Twine: A Study of the Works of Michael McLavertyMay, Lou and Cass: Jane Austen’s Nieces in Ireland; two novels, The Friday Tree and The Way We Danced, and The Cocktail Hour (short stories).



Liz McManus: Born in Canada 1947. Qualified as an architect 1969. Writer. Newspaper columnist. Novels: Acts of Subversion 1991. shortlisted for Aer Lingus/ Irish Times award.

A Shadow in the Yard. Published 2015. Literary Awards: Hennessy New Irish Writing award, Listowel Short Story award,  Irish PEN award. MPhil in Creative Writing (with distinction)TCD.

Member of Parliament 1992-2011. Minister for Housing/ Urban Renewal 1994-97. Ex-chairperson of the Irish Writers Centre.

Maria McManus is the librettist of WRETCHES, Revolutions, Rights & Wrongs (2019) with composer Keith Acheson, and for the dance theatre productions TURF (2018) and DUST (2017), with choreographer Eileen McClory. Poetry collections are Available Light (Arlen House, 2018), We Are Bone (2013) The Cello Suites (2009) and Reading the Dog (2006)(Lagan Press). Her writing for theatre includes work with Kabosh, Tinderbox, Big Telly and Replay. Maria as collaborated extensively to put poetry into public spaces, most notably with Poetry Jukebox, Cirque des Oiseaux, Splendid, Liberal. Lofty and LabeLLit. In 2019/20, she was writer in residence with the Prison Arts Foundation and NIACRO (Northern Ireland Association for the Care & Resettlement of Offenders) women’s group.

Photo by Simon Robinson

Lia Mills writes novels, short stories, essays, memoir and an occasional blog.  Her most recent novel, Fallen, was the 2016 Dublin/Belfast Two Cities One Book festival selection. She is a founding member of the Freedom to Write Campaign in Ireland. She is currently working on a collection of short stories.





Éilís Ní Dhuibhne is a  Dublin writer, critic and folklore scholar. She has published almost thirty books, including novels, collections of short stories, and plays. She writes in both Irish and English. Her latest book is a memoir, Twelve Thousand Days (Blackstaff, 2018).  A new collection of short stories, Little Red, will  be published by Blackstaff in 2020.  She has edited an anthology of essays by women writers, Look! It’s a Woman Writer, which will also be published later this year.



Irish PEN Membership secretary: Pádraig Hanratty

Author of Talking Squirrel Blues, editor and founder of QUIP Editing Solutions Pádraig Hanratty is a vital member of the PEN team. Contact him at

An editor, proofreader, writer and instructional designer, Pádraig is a member of the AFEPI.




Irish PEN President: J Anthony Gaughan
J Anthony Gaughan, PhD, D.Litt, is a parish priest, writer and historian. He has published 27 books across  a wide range of subjects. His most recent publication is;The Archbishops, Bishops and Priests of the Archdiocese of Dublin; 1900-2011.

His website is

Outgoing Irish PEN Chair: Vanessa Fox O’Loughlin

Vanessa Fox O’Loughlin runs The Inkwell Group, Ireland’s leading publishing consultancy and is a literary scout for leading agents in Ireland and the UK. Vanessa is the founder Ireland’s online writing resources magazine She has compiled various charity anthologies and in her own right writes crime fiction as bestselling author Sam Blake. She is represented by Simon Trewin at WME. Vanessa is also the founder of the Murder One, Ireland’s International Crime Writing Festival.

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